Category Archives: Butler

Beyond the Cutline: Star-Spangled Sons

This is a new, weekly feature for Sunflower Slate where I’ll take a picture from off the beat and get the story behind it – from the person that took it and the people in it. If you have ones you think might be worthy, feel free to e-mail them to me:

Be safe out there in all this snow.

“Star-Spangled Sons” 


Cutline: Butler Community College men’s basketball coach Mike Bargen stands for the national anthem with his son, John, before Butler’s Feb. 9 game at Hutchinson. Butler defeated Hutchinson, then No. 1 and undefeated, 70-64.

Beyond the Cutline: I saw the picture, taken by Mike Bargen’s wife, Kacy, on Facebook while I was in Orlando last week. When I got back I was interviewing Mike and asked him about it.

The Grizzlies have won five straight and were 21-6 and 9-4 in Jayhawk West play headed into Wednesday afternoon’s game at Cloud County. I thought it was striking because Mike would have been about the same age as John, who is five years old, when Mike’s father, Gary, was the head men’s coach at Hutchinson from 1978 to 1986.

Mike Bargen: (Kacy) and I talked for awhile about finding a road game that we could bring (John) to that was close enough where we wouldn’t have to keep him up too late. I want him to get to experience some of the things that I experienced with my dad when I was young. I’ve got some very similar (pictures) of me with my dad when he was the coach at Hutchinson.

Kacy Bargen: I’m from a military family and was brought up with some fairly strict guidelines … including attention during the national anthem. I was so proud of his posture! I hated to be snapping a photo during the national anthem … but the moment was too good to miss.



Butler pulls off recruiting coup with QB Zeke Palmer


Probably the biggest signing news out of the state/junior college ranks this week was Butler Community College landing Bishop Carroll’s Zeke Palmer, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound dual-threat quarterback who has a good shot at being the Grizzlies’ starting quarterback this fall. It was a major recruiting coup for the Grizzlies in not only landing a high-profile in-stater but a player who was very, very close to being either a Division I or I-AA player right out of high school and became the victim of he and his team’s success more than anything.

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Why Cowley and Butler don’t play in softball


In the process of putting together our juco softball previews on NJCAA Division I No. 11 Butler and NJCAA Division II No. 3 Cowley that ran in today’s Eagle and at, one of the questions I asked both coaches – Doug Chance at Butler and Ed Hargrove at Cowley – was why the two schools don’t play each other.

Turns out, there’s some lingering bad blood between the schools. And it all goes back to a Cowley pitcher named Ashly Bright, a 2006 doubleheader that never happened, the difference between NJCAA Division I (Butler) and NJCAA Division II (Cowley), some hurt feelings and two completely different stories on what went down.

According to Chance, the Grizzlies were scheduled to play a doubleheader at Arkansas City. He didn’t think the Grizzlies could beat Cowley twice because of Bright, who would end up being a unanimous pick for Jayhawk East player of the year and pitch for Wichita State.

“She was so good, just dominant,” Chance said. “We didn’t think we could beat her, but we thought we might be able to get one game from them, from another one of their pitchers.”

Chance said that Hargrove called him a couple of weeks before the doubleheader was scheduled to be played and said Cowley would only play one game of the doubleheader against Butler, and would bring in another team to play the other game.

That didn’t sit well with Chance, because Butler and Cowley were both Division II at the time – Butler is now Division I – and he wanted both shots at Cowley, who would finish the year No. 2 in the national rankings.

Chance then had Butler assistant coach Zack Sigler call a Cowley assistant at the time — someone Zigler had worked with before — and cancel the doubleheader.

“I didn’t think that was right, for them to not play us both games because we had an agreement in place,” Chance said. “Since Zack had someone on their staff he knew, I had him call them.”

This is where the stories diverge in a big way.

“(Chance) had his assistant call us and cancel, and I think they didn’t want us to play because of Ashly, who was so dominant,” Hargrove said. “We never proposed bringing in another team. They cancelled on us and left a huge hole in our schedule.

“The assistant said it was because of budgetary concerns … which I find hard to believe because the schools are only 60 miles apart. Doesn’t make sense.”

Hargrove also admitted that their had been  lingering problems between the schools dating back to before Chance took the job, and in the battle for recruits.  From my perspective, Hargrove has been dogged in publicizing his team – if there’s any mention of Butler in the paper, brief or story, there’s usually a follow-up e-mail asking for the same for Cowley and citing the battle for recruits. Usually, the e-mails are pretty heavy-handed, but I understand he’s trying to promote his team.

“We split on going after a lot of the same recruits,” Hargrove said.

And that leads to the Division I vs. Division II stuff – Butler is one of five teams in the Jayhawk that play Division I, which means they’ve chosen to go against jucos around the country with full scholarships, something the Jayhawk does not offer. Cowley is one of 16 Jayhawk schools that play DII and go against other partial and non-scholarship jucos.

“I think one difference you can see is where we place players,” Chance said.

That’s actually a good point – take this for example – Cowley outfielder Laura Seeman has signed with Emporia State. Seeman was an All-American last season. Butler pitcher/outfielder Kelsey Berlin, a similar player is headed to Arkansas. Butler has a glut of Division I players on their roster, already signed. The Tigers might have one this year. How successful they’ll be on the next level is anyone’s guess, but the perception from NCAA Division I programs is that the juco DI schools are producing more talent right now.

That’s not to say the teams won’t ever play again – Chance said he’s approached Cowley about setting up games, which Hargrove confirmed, but said he’s taking more of a wait-and-see approach.  Chance said he’d even be willing to pay for the umpires to make it happen.

“We want to play,” Chance said. “Anytime, anywhere.”




Top 10 stories of 2012


1. Brandon Brown

Tabor College defensive lineman Brandon Brown was found beaten, unconscious and unresponsive outside of a house party in McPherson in the early-morning hours of Sept. 16. He died six days later in a Wichita hospital and two former McPherson College football players have been charged with murder in the case. An eyewitness account of that night paints a gruesome picture.


2. Butler football loses in NJCAA title game

Butler Community College’s football team lost in the NJCAA championship game for the second time in three years, falling 27-7 to Iowa Western in the Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The Grizzlies didn’t have arguably their top offensive player in West Virginia-bound running back Dreamius Smith (broken collarbone), and starting quarterback Billy Cosh was knocked out on the final play of the first half while trying to make a touchdown-saving tackle … but I’m not sure having both of them for the entire game would’ve mattered. This was the Reivers’ year.

3. McPherson’s historic run to the NAIA D2 Final Four

Sometimes, a good coach does make all the difference. In four years, McPherson College men’s coach Tim Swartzendruber has engineered one of the most amazing runs in KCAC history and made it all the way to the NAIA Division II Final Four this year, where the Bulldogs fell to Northwood (Fla.) and former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino. Swartzendruber’s teams have been to the NAIA Tournament three years in a row, a first in KCAC history.

4. Cowley volleyball comes up short in bid for back-to-back national titles

The Cowley volleyball team entered the NJCAA Division II championship game 38-0 and the defending national champion but lost to Grand Rapids 25-20, 25-23, 26-24. Cowley has two national runner-ups and one title in four years under coach Jennifer Bahner.

5. Blue Dragon women fall in NJCAA championship game

For some reason, this was the year that teams from Kansas kept coming up short – specifically three from the Jayhawk Conference that made it to national championship games before losing. In another incredible twist,  Butler football, Cowley volleyball and Hutchinson women’s basketball were all undefeated before their losses in the title game.  The Blue Dragons, coached by John Ontjes, were 36-0 before losing to top-seeded Trinity Valley in Salina.

6. Jaime Green quits

Newman women’s basketball coach Jaime Green’s incredibly successful – and controversial – two-year stint as the women’s basketball coach of the Jets came to an end when she surprised Newman athletic director Vic Trilli with her resignation in March in order to take a job as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Missouri Southern. The Jets eventually hired former New Mexico State coach Darrin Spence to take over for Green.

7. Butler opens new stadium

In a big, big way – $12 million well spent.  The opening of BG Products Veterans Sports Complex in El Dorado ended a decade-long saga of a town and a school fighting over how to showcase their most bankable product — the Butler Community College football team. With Coffeyville’s Veterans Memorial Stadium and Hutchinson’s Gowans Stadium also housing teams in the Jayhawk, you have a league with facilities that rival most NCAA Division II conferences.

8. Cordarrelle Patterson signs with Tennessee

Former Coffeyville football coach Dick Foster coached the only Heisman Trophy winner ever to come out of the Jayhawk Conference — Nebraska running back Mike Rozier — and even he thought Patterson might be the best player to ever come out of the celebrated junior-college league. The Hutchinson Community College wide receiver/returner is likely headed to the NFL after one season at Tennessee. 

Even in the Jayhawk, where schools pump out D1 and NFL players ever year, Patterson’s recruitment was a wild ride.

9. What’s a taxi squad?

One of the more controversial rule changes to hit Jayhawk football in recent memory came when the league decided to include taxi squads to their rosters this year,  meaning each of the eight schools could keep four extra out-of-state players on the roster to play in non-conference and bowl games … and making the 12 out-of-staters that school’s have had to traditionally pick before the season and stick with even through injuries a flexible thing – coaches could change out those spots week-to-week.

10. Pittsburg State’s collapse

What in the world happened to the Gorillas? The defending NCAA Division II football champions were ranked No. 1 into the middle of October and then…

What will become of the senior year for John Brown and Nate Dreiling, two almost sure-fire PSU Hall of Famers? I can’t wait to find out.

Thanks for reading.


Weekend Wrapup: Newman/Bobby Wesley, Ryan Schraeder, Craig Nicholson, Hutchinson CC men stay perfect


Lots of stuff going on over the weekend – thought this might be a good primer to show you a few of the highlights:

-Newman is 8-0: The Newman men improved to 8-0 over the weekend, setting up a big, big game Saturday in Wichita against No. 2 Washburn. The Jets beat William Jewell on Saturday night 86-84 behind some late-game heroics from senior guard Bobby Wesley, who scored 7 points … with 5 coming in the last two minutes on a three-pointer and a 12-foot jumper with 2.5 seconds left that won the game.

-Ryan Schraeder: The former Butler Community College All-American offensive tackle is back playing for the national championship – this time on the NCAA Division II level with Valdosta State. The Blazers beat Minnesota State-Mankato 35-19 on Saturday in Mankato, and will face Winston-Salem State for the title. More good news for Schraeder – he was named a D2 1st team All-American for the second time and he had a feature written about him in the Wichita Eagle. Schraeder is moving up draft boards as we speak – here’s a link to his Twitter account @RyanSchraeder78 – Pittsburg State wide receiver John Brown and former Washburn cornerback Pierre Desir, now at Lindenwood, were also named to the first team.

-Craig Nicholson turning heads: Northwest product and Fort Hays State freshman point guard Craig Nicholson was named the MIAA player of the week on Monday (not the weekend, I know), but the 5-foot-8 playmaker is already showing that the Tigers scored a coup in signing him.

-And there’s Hutch: The Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team improved to 14-0 over the weekend and are ranked No. 4 in the country. Brad Hallier of The Hutch News breaks it down for you. 

Talk to you soon -TA

Looking back at Butler’s loss to Iowa Western


Butler Community College lost Sunday in the NJCAA championship game against Iowa Western, 27-7, as the Reivers won their first national title and the Grizzlies lost for the second straight time in the title game.

Here’s a look back at how it went down:


1. No Dreamius
West Virginia-bound running back Dreamius Smith was arguably Butler’s best player and a way to keep teams honest with the Grizzlies’ passing game. He was out against Iowa Western with a broken collarbone and he could’ve made the difference in keeping the game close, at least, and negated some of the Reivers’ team speed.

2. Butler’s defense played great
The Grizzlies sacked Iowa Western quarterback Jake Waters six times – he’d been sacked five times the entire season leading up to the game. The Reivers turned three of Butler’s four turnovers – all off of interceptions – into points, including that 88-yard interception return by James Garlock for a TD as the first half expired.

3. Butler had their shots
Billy Cosh’s interception to Garlock – Garlock’s second pick – came with the Grizzlies trailing just 7-0 at halftime and trying to get into at least field-goal range. Both of backup QB Tyler Harrison’s picks came in Reiver territory, including one disastrous throw that was intercepted at the 1-yard line with Butler trailing 21-0 and four minutes left in the third quarter.


A few that were good:

Ufomba Kamalu
The sophomore defensive tackle had 2 1/2 sacks, 12 tackles and dominated the line of scrimmage. He was named the game’s defensive MVP.

Derrick Thomas
The sophomore running back finished with 21 carries for 108 yards and was the only source of offense for Butler much of the day.

Jacob Hurla
The sophomore tight end/wide receiver seemed like the only one of Butler’s receivers who consistently was able to get open against Iowa Western and he was open on Harrison’s pick at the goal line, and Cosh missed him on a big play early in the game where he was streaking down the middle of the field.

A few that were bad:

Billy Cosh
Even before he was hurt trying to make the tackle on Garlock’s interception return, he struggled. Finished 7 of 20 for 31 yards and two interceptions.

Tyler Harrison
Cosh’s backup came in and threw two interceptions on his first two pass attempts.

Anyone that tried to cover Deon Long
Iowa Western’s stud receiver ended up with 14 catches for 136 yards, and Butler was forced to play off of him the entire game because of his speed. He and IW quarterback Jake Waters had a field day with underneath routes, eating up small chunks of the field.

Coaching critique

Butler probably needed to take some more chances offensively in the first half when they still had Cosh, instead settling for fly sweeps and quick, hitch-type routes that the Iowa Western corners smothered in a heartbeat. Also, trailing 24-0 in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies made the odd decision to kick an extra point after their first touchdown and about nine minutes on the clock. Needed three TDs and to go for two on each one at that point.


“I have a lot of respect for Butler’s program, they’re the ones that seem like they’re always playing (for the NJCAA title). What they’ve built there is amazing.” – Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier


Gameday: No. 1 Iowa Western vs. No. 2 Butler


I’m in Cedar Falls, Iowa, for Sunday’s NJCAA national championship game between No. 1 Iowa Western (11-0) and No. 2 Butler (11-0) at the UNI-Dome – here’s a rundown of our coverage over the last few week in The Wichita Eagle, at and at Sunflower Slate.

-Eagle columnist Bob Lutz’s profile of Butler coach Troy Morrell

-Butler accepts bid to play Iowa Western 

-Butler assistant coach Steve Braet is the one link between all six of the Grizzlies’ national titles

-Butler running back/Heights product Dreamius Smith commits to West Virginia

-Butler bolsters brand through social media – better than any JC in the nation

-Iowa Western makes quick rise to NJCAA elite – Reivers only in their fourth season. (More IW coverage from the Council Bluffs paper)

-Butler QB Billy Cosh revamps career, leads Grizzlies to NJCAA title game

-Looking back at Butler’s six NJCAA titles at Sunflower Slate: 1981, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2008

I’ll be live-tweeting the game on my Twitter account – @t_adame

See y’all on the other side.




Garden City quarterback Eugene Smith middle is tackled by Butler players Felix Snipes (14) Jarrett Wright (10) and Jeffery Thompson in 2008. (EAGLE FILE PHOTO)

Monday: 1981

Tuesday: 1998

Wednesday: 1999

Thursday: 2003

Friday: 2007

Saturday: 2008

Behind the title: We’ve spent the last week here at Sunflower Slate looking back at Butler Community College’s NJCAA titles in football – all six of them. You can hit the links above to find stories behind the titles and game stories and boxes from the championship wins. In 2008, Butler opened the season with a loss, falling to Blinn in front of 13,000 at Cessna Stadium, but bounced back with 10 straight victories and earned a shot to face No. 1 Snow again in the Top of the Mountains Bowl in Salt Lake City. This time there would be no splitting the title because the NJCAA designated the game as the national-championship game, as they’ve done every year since. The Grizzlies last played for the national title in 2010, falling to Navarro in the Citizens Bank Bowl in Pittsburg.

Tomorrow: Gameday. 

Game story and box score after the jump. 

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Butler’s Markus White sacks Fort Scott quarterback Greg Cross in the Region VI championship game. (EAGLE FILE PHOTO)

Monday: 1981

Tuesday: 1998

Wednesday: 1999

Thursday: 2003

Friday: 2007

Saturday: 2008

Sunday: Gameday

Behind the title: Led by defensive end Markus White, the NJCAA defensive player of the year, the Grizzlies entered the Top of the Mountains Bowl ranked No. 2 in the country and with an 11-0 record. Turned out, even a dominating, 56-27 win over the No. 1 team in the country – Snow College – wasn’t good enough to get them the NJCAA title all by themselves. In a decision that still has people scratching their heads, the NJCAA held a special meeting over the weekend to decide to name co-national champions, splitting the title between Butler and then-No. 3 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, which defeated No. 15 Kilgore 62-28 in the Heart of Texas Bowl. The decision, according to NJCAA assistant executive director Mark Krug, was made for the “good of the sport” and the voters were only allowed to rank teams 3-20. “There’s nothing we can do about it,” Butler coach Troy Morrell said after the rankings came out. “We’ve done everything we can do on the field. It shouldn’t tarnish anything our kids accomplished. We beat six ranked opponents.”  White, running back Beau Johnson and offensive lineman Wade Weibert were all named first-team All-Americans for Butler.

Tomorrow: Butler goes back-to-back for a second time. Game story and box score from ’07 after the jump. 

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Monday: 1981
Tuesday: 1998
Wednesday: 1999
Thursday: 2003
Friday: 2007
Saturday: 2008 
Behind the title: Four years later, and Butler has already lost once while playing for the national title, in 2001, making it back-to-back years the Jayhawk Conference falls short — Garden City also played for the whole thing in 2000. Former offensive coordinator Troy Morrell, a Butler alum, is trying to win his first national title after winning two as an assistant under James Shibest in 1998 and 1999. This year, Butler, ranked No. 1 and 11-0 headed into the game, faces No. 2 Dixie (10-1) in the Dixie Rotary Bowl in St. George, Utah, the same spot where Dixie had handled them, 31-18, one year earlier. The Grizzlies brought 36 sophomores into this game — an unbelievable amount, trust me — and had much better conditions traveling to the game this time, flying from Kansas instead of a 22-hour bus ride. “It’s not a vacation for us,” sophomore running back Joseph Harris said. “We plan on going out there and taking care of business this year.”  And did they ever. Tomorrow: 2007, and some controversy. Game story and box after the jump. 
PS. This is also the team that handed Coffeyville one of the most devastating losses in school history, a 28-point, second-half comeback against a Red Ravens’ team with current NFL players players Dashon Goldson and Johnathan Joseph on the 2003 team (thanks to GrizzlyFan77 for the heads up on that one).
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